Trial dates set on demolition charges




SaltWire Network


New trial dates have been set for a developer and his company on charges stemming from the demolition of the historic Reid House in Avonport. A pre-trial conference for Nanco Developments Limited owner Bassam Nahas and his company scheduled for Dec. 20, did not proceed. A new pre-trial conference date has been set for July 28, 2022. The trial was originally scheduled to unfold over five days between Oct. 17 and 21, 2022. These dates have been changed to five days between Jan. 16 and 20, 2023. Not guilty pleas were entered to all charges, four against the company and six against the owner, in September. Nanco Developments and Nahas are each facing two counts of substantially altering in exterior appearance or demolishing a provincial heritage property without the approval of the governor in council. The charges were laid under the Heritage Property Act. The company and Nahas are each also facing two counts of excavating or otherwise altering a protected site without a permit under the Special Places Protection Act. It’s alleged the offences were committed in Avonport between Dec. 2 and 10, 2020 and between Dec. 14 and 30, 2020. Nahas, 70, of Fergusons Cove, was also charged with demolishing the dwelling associated with the Reid House under the Heritage Property Act; and with excavating the protected site of the Reid House and removing objects without a permit under the Special Places Protection Act. However, these two charges were dismissed without penalty on Dec. 20, 2021. According to provincial court documents, the Crown will be proceeding on replacement charges. The maximum penalty under the Heritage Protection Act is $250,000, while the maximum penalty under the Special Places Protection Act is $100,000. The house was torn down in December 2020 and, weeks later, the foundation was also demolished. It led to public outcry from area residents and heritage advocates, including the Heritage Trust of Nova Scotia. The demolition was subsequently investigated by the provincial government and the RCMP. Nanco Developments and Nahas were charged in July. The charges have not been proven in court. Reid House was located to the immediate south of Highway 101 in Avonport and was visible from the highway. It was granted provincial heritage property status in 1993 and a national heritage designation in 2007. According to Gordon Haliburton’s book, Horton Point: A History of Avonport, the Reid House served many purposes over the years, including as a court, tavern, stagecoach stop and hotel. A 2015 article by Wendy Elliott titled “Kings County heritage houses at risk” features information from Janice Hattie’s history. The article points out that the house was later used as a post office and election polling station. For more than a year before the demolition, advocates for the heritage property had been engaging with Nanco Developments and various agencies in an attempt to save and revitalize Reid House. It’s believed that the house was built in or around 1760.